Shortened Ironman Race Hits Wilmington Saturday

By Vince Winkel, posted Oct 21, 2016
Swimmers compete in the 2015 swim portion of the race at Wrightsville Beach. (Courtesy of PPD Beach2Battleship)
More than 3,000 athletes from around the world are in Wilmington this weekend for the PPD Ironman North Carolina race, an event that starts with swimming, transitions to biking and finishes up with running.
Late last year, the Ironman brand acquired the PPD Beach2Battleship triathlon and half-distance triathlon from the YMCA of Wilmington Inc. The first PPD Beach2Battleship race was held in 2008.
“Recognized as one of the Top Long Distance Triathlons by Triathlete Magazine in 2010, we feel privileged to have the PPD Beach2Battleship team and events join the Ironman family,” said Andrew Messick, CEO of Ironman, in a news release when Ironman took over the race. “The acquisition of these races furthers our commitment to the Southeastern U.S. and we look forward to growing these two great events.”
The event brings in thousands of visitors to the Wilmington area, providing a boost to the local economy.
This year the Ironman participants have come from 45 states and 23 countries.
There are two races on Saturday: The full Ironman and the Ironman 70.3, both of which begin on the beach.
However this week, the race course was changed because of the lasting impact of Hurricane Matthew. The full Ironman triathlon normally features a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run.
On Thursday, race officials announced the Ironman course will have a 56-mile bike distance rather than the 112 miles, because of flooding along some roads.
The Ironman 70.3 triathlon will feature a 1.2-mile swim, the 56-mile bike course, and the complete 13.1-mile run.
Both races begin at Wrightsville Beach, and end at the finish line downtown at the corner of Nutt and Brunswick streets.
The Ironman foundation will make a $10,000 donation to those impacted in the race communities through The American Red Cross and The North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund.
The first Ironman was held in 1978 when a small group of athletes in Hawaii came up of the idea of a one-day endurance race involving three events. They took the three toughest endurance races in Hawaii—the 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, 112 miles of the Around-O’ahu Bike Race and the 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon—and made one event.
Saturday’s race in Wilmington is a qualifying race for the Ironman World Championship held in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on Oct. 14, 2017.
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